To Know When my Life has been Saved

There must be always remaining in every person’s life some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathlessly beautiful…The commonplace is shot through with glory; old burdens suddenly become lighter; deep and ancient wounds lose much of their old, old, hurting…Despite all of the hardness of life, despite all of the harsh discords of life, life is saved by the singing of angels.

—Howard Thurman—

Addie has had three hundred years to practice her father’s art, to whittle herself down to a few essential truths, to learn the things she cannot do without.

And this is what she’s settled on: She can go without food (she will not wither). She can go without heat (the cold will not kill her). But a life without art, without wonder, without beautiful things—she would go mad. She has gone mad.

What she needs are stories. Stories are a way to preserve oneself. To be remembered. And to forget. Stories came in so many forms: in charcoal, and in song, in paintings, poems, films. And in books.

Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives—or to find strength in a very long one.

p. 35 The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.

I love that these two writings ended up in a notebook of mine on the same day. A theologian’s preaching and a fiction writer’s spinning, connected by a constellation’s path of believing, musing, and desiring to see.

I spent Thanksgiving Day itself in the Public Gardens, finishing one book, starting another, and delighting in the chill that both kept foot traffic down and allowed for the amplification of the sounds that were there: The chittering of a multitude of birds, gull feet flat-slapping on pea gravel, the chesty mumble of drakes out for breakfast…the crisp “swoocht” of each new page sliding over in an act of revelation. I feasted lavishly on textures of language and of landscape, letting the angels’ singing both wrap me and hold me rapt, loose and keenly attentive, open, relaxed, and fending off the madness of one kind or another through the stories told in their voices. Yes, the commonplace is shot through with glory And the angels, in their guises and in their wonder, they set that glory free…

It’s there. In feather, ink, petal, leaf, colour, syllable, and shadow, voice and note after voice and note. My prayer is to recognize the sound, to know when my life has been saved, and to give thanks.

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